Sunday, December 4, 2016

Like shining from shook foil...

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge |&| shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs --
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast with ah! bright wings. 

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Watercolour on 600gm paper

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

kursunluhan- karakoy 

It's been a busy month. Setting up an Arts association here in the city of Istanbul has proven to be an interesting experience. There's nothing like grappling with officialdom to get to know a country and culture just that little but more. The approval for our application came through at the beginning of October and we've been getting utilities set up since.

So it's just in the last week or so I've been able to turn my mind to the work of painting. The Kurşunlu Han near the waterfront at Karaköy still brings me much inspiration and is a break from the rusted pieces of metal that usually inspire me. The old Karvansaray apparently has Byzantine roots and its second floor is attributed to Mimar Sinan the most well known of Ottoman architects. Over the years I've painted a lot of this particular place, maybe one day we could try a pop-up exhibition there. 

Watercolour on 600 gm paper 
For sale

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The place where much is said...

I have a love hate relationship with my car. It’s big, a thirteen seater minibus. Its old, about sixteen years now. It just about manages to get through it’s road test each year although it has left me red faced by the side of the road too many times for me to forgive.

One occasion was when the handbrake wouldn’t release, imagine lurching down the road with the rear wheels locked. Another occasion was when it over heated on a freeway. I had to drive it the wrong way down the emergency lane to attract the attention of a policeman who managed to call me a pick up.

I had noticed that the exhaust was a little noisier than usual. After a few short errands the nosiness had evolved into a deep guttural growl befitting a Ferrari but not a Kia minibus. So I headed off to the auto repair centre where my faithful and long suffering mechanics profit from my reluctance to buy a decent car.

“It’ll take about half an hour to fix the rotted pipe” I was told.
“Ok, I can pick it up after Namaz” I said, mindful of Friday prayers.
“ You can sit here, drink tea, go shopping, wait until after prayers, do what you like, it’ll be ready soon.”
“I’ll take some photos” I said and smiled.
“Do whatever you want” these guys are used to me perusing their workshops for subject material, camera in hand.

So here’s the chair they sit on…..

Watercolour on paper.

Friday, August 26, 2016


So there’s a new bridge being opened today, that will be three across the Bosphorus straits. I have a feeling that it will instantly become a heavy traffic jam, the considerable growth in car usage here over a generation means investment in transport will always be lagging behind. 

We on the other hand are all praying fervently for the completion of a new metro line from Üsküdar to Çekmeköy which will alleviate the need for tens of thousands of commuters to be squashed into minibuses for a torturous journey into the Anatolian hinterland of the city.

As for drains. Well apparently I am not the only one to be captivated by the sight of a good drain cover. It turns out the the leader of the British Labour Party (the opposition to the Conservative government of the UK) also loves drain covers. One article in a British newspaper explains the leaders passion for these large metal sculptures that adorn our streets.

Watercolour on 600gm paper - for sale.... £350

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Bad Timing?

Watercolour on paper... unfinished...
Watercolour on paper... unfinished...
Bad timing?

So I’ve decided to start an arts association, here in Istanbul.

This is basically a club where artists and creatives can get together and do things co-operatively. 

We can exhibit together, share the cost of hiring and putting on events, have times where we meet around the work of one or more of our members and generally enjoy promoting one another. 

There is an official way of doing this here in Turkey, one can register a group with a few other people lay down some aims and have some level of official status which makes things easier when approaching galleries and official bodies.

The question at the moment of course is whether the present situation is amenable to new ventures of this type at the moment?

Who knows? I have great sympathy and concern for the good people of Turkey at the moment, they deserve better than to have had to go through the appalling events of July 15th with all it’s sadness and mayhem. In their honour I think probably the best thing is to try and carry on as one has planned and give energy to the effort to bring back normality.

If you’re in Istanbul and you’re interested in joining with us in our association, drop me a line on

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Handcarts, chaos, and Georgia O'keeffe

Georgia O'Keeffe Oriental Poppies 1927

As the world descends into varying levels of chaos, violence and mayhem all around I am in the relative peace and calm of 'post-Brexit' Britain (Britains exit from the EU).

The Brexiteers speak now of free trade, internationalism and boundless prosperity awaiting the the United Kingdom, or what will remain of it when Scotland has decided what to do, oh, and Northern Ireland for that matter.

The B’remainers are emerging as from a particularly nasty hangover bleary eyed and unsure what to hope for, if the country really is going ‘to hell in a handcart’ as many predict they could smugly play the ‘told you so’ card, on the other hand no-one wants economic meltdown either. Whatever the case, it’s too early to tell and probably will be for the next five years!

All the hand ringing in the UK can’t help appearing as a storm in a teacup compared with the events in Turkey in the last ten days. The shocking events that gripped us all from Friday night on-wards have changed the political landscape. One only feels deep sympathy and concern for my Turkish friends as they bravely continue on that long and painful road to democracy. I salute those who stood in harms way to safeguard their way of life.

Georgia O’Keeffe was a welcome breath of gentle meditation in all the chaos. The Tate Modern London is showing her works until October. I felt that I understood her creative journey and resonated which much of what she’d done.
I have a few half finished works awaiting my attention back in the capital of the world, in a few days we will be together again.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Inspiring artists...

Work in progress - Part One

The summer is finally upon us. The schools are winding down, it's Ramadam and most people seem to be asleep a lot of the time. 

Istanbul is calming down and sadly last week's bomb probably did nothing for the cities prospects this coming summer.

We have to finish off painting the walls at the refugee centre this Saturday and I'm still trying to get more painting done before I head off to see family and friends.

I have been inspired by many people in the last six months. Here are a few of them..

Hicran Alioğlu - an Azeri watercolourıst check him out.

Paul Fowler - an English watercolourist @PaulFowlerArt
Lewis Noble - @mybluecanary
David Parfitt - @davidparfittR
and of course my favourite Matti Sirvio

You can check my website out of course and subscribe for my newsletter which gets you a free gift!! ;)



Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tea Break.. 

“The whole area is gonna be knocked down”, so they say. As you look at the surrounding high rise buildings going up (all testimony to the ballooning construction sector here) one does indeed wonder how long this place will remain. 

The auto repair neighbourhood is an area of two to three storey concrete buildings filled with every type of automobile related enterprise. Body work shops, clutch replacement centres, engine, brakes and exhaust repair garages are all nestled together into a maze of narrow streets strewn with the half finished remains of vehicles. On one corner there is a wall of discarded tyres on another a vehicle spills its guts onto the path for impatient drivers to curse at as they squeeze through the chaos.

The actual workshops themselves are galleries filled with the three dimensional products of human ingenuity. They’re stacked with crafted, manufactured, repaired, repainted and moulded sculptures standing as monuments
to the relentless quest by ordinary men to earn and provide. The tools they use lie scattered, close at hand, scarred by the urgent frowns of time strapped customers. 

The men themselves maintain a calm nobility, in command of their space, confident of the service they provide. They dictate when the tea arrives and when the work will be done. The Call to Prayer for the most part is heeded, the work can wait.

Watercolour on 600gm paper.

Friday, April 22, 2016


“What a beautiful pair of boots!” I said to the scrap iron man as he pushed his cart up to the garage we were waiting by. My mechanic friends laughed, no-one had ever called anyone’s footwear in this whole auto repair centre 'beautiful'. The guy looked pleased and I respectfully asked if I could take a photo to which he willingly agreed.

He clearly doesn’t do his shoe-laces up which could be for a variety of reasons. What most westerners don’t understand about Muslim cultures is that you don’t wear outside shoes inside the home. As such slip-on shoes are favoured, or shoes that can be worn unlaced… I suppose. I wonder also if the guy would pray five times a day and this of course involves the taking off of shoes.

I can’t get away from the beauty of old worn things. These boots tell a story and tell us a lot about the wearer. I’m interested by the fact that he’s wearing ‘pin-striped’ trousers! These would be the chosen style of bankers and civil servants where I come from! Here they are the chosen style of scrap iron merchants.

Next picture will be entitled the ‘Hand of God’ look out for it.

Watercolour on 600gm paper

Monday, March 28, 2016

Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour and a free gift...

This is a first... I'd like to offer a FREE GIFT!!!!

If you subscribe to my newsletter I'll send you five post cards of my latest works. The ones I'm offering are in the image below. 

Use the form to the right to subscribe.

If you have particular favourites email me and I'll do my best. 

Of course you'll have to give me an address to send them to but I'll email you to arrange that, no SPAM I promise.

It's that time of year again. 

I was fortunate again to have a painting chosen to be exhibited at the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour at the Mall Galleries in London's West End. This is the second year in a row, so it's nice
to think that's I'm vaguely heading in the right direction.

It's great to be exhibited along with many of the current 'greats' of the medium like Lilias August, Paul Banning, Deborah Walker and Andy Wood.

I have more exhibitions coming up this year and a few projects in the pipeline too.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Mr Benn

This piece is a scene from a favourite second hand clothing store By Retro which also apparently provides costumes for film and stage shows. 

Istanbul always seems to to defy stereotyping, it resists a neat category as a 'Middle eastern city, it's probably more Balkan in that sense. It resists being purely classed as a centre of Islam, it's Christian past and secular present both have had a major role in the forming of its identity. It is an ancient city but its past does not overshadow its present. In the same way this bizarre clothing store nestles in the fashionable district of Beyoglu as a witness to the city's diversity despite what many say these days.

The bizarre second hand costume store reminds me of a TV prgramme called 'Mr Benn' where a cartoon straight laced English man enters a magical costume store. Whilst trying on a costume finds himself entering into another world and having a brief adventure only to mysteriously return to his 'work a day' clothes just when the adventure it getting interesting.

You really can pick your own adventure in Istanbul according whichever whim takes your fancy. The city's long history has birthed a dizzying array of cultures and traditions and long may it remain so.

Watercolour on paper

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Crumbs on the Keyboard

It was the crumbs on the keyboard which I remember the most.

I had an hour's lesson each week with an elderly organist who would give lessons in a rented room with a piano. I would feel sick the night before in anticipation of the the dreaded hour when I would nervously play the tunes I'd been given to practice that week. 

The teacher would munch on a iced bun or a piece of cake and drink tea. I'd finish my brief renditions and await his judgement. I can't really remember what he used to say except that I was terrified most of the time. He would write things on the music sheets and I'd never understand what it was, I still remember it as spidery and mysterious and indicative that something needed to be worked on that week.

Leaving the lesson on a Friday afternoon was the same feeling one has when leaving a final exam, or finally walking out a police station with visa that has taken days to obtain. One felt free and liberated, able to relax until Thursday night would come round again when the familiar feelings of trepidation would descend.

The lasting effects of this childhood experience which went on for almost ten years was that I'd vowed never to make my kids learn a musical instrument unless they wanted to. I'm happy to provide encouragement but I certainly wasn't going to be an enforcer!

Watercolour on Paper 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Three Visions of Realism - Hicran Alioğlu, Koray Dağcı & Ewen MacDonald

It has been a great pleasure to be exhibiting with Hicran Alioğlu and Koray Dağcı in an exhibition which opened last night on a snowy evening at the Venus Art Gallery in Kadiköy Istanbul.

My fellow exhibitors have shown great generosity of heart to allow me to exhibit with them. They are established national artists and I'm grateful to them for granting me the honour to work with them. 

They are humble, incredibly gifted and a lot of fun. The evening ended up with a snowball fight out on the street, not what you usually expect at gallery openings, but this is fun loving Istanbul!

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